Versions and Diversions brings together a selection of works by three contemporary artists who have all developed an experimental approach to working with found photographs, intervening in the image at surface and compositional levels through a range of processes, from cutting and placing, to stitching and tearing. The exhibition explores how these contemporary works might be seen as a series of ‘versions’ and ‘diversions’. Version, in the sense of adaptation; of a composition that has been recast in a new form, and diversion as redirection or an instance of turning something aside from its course.
Images that have become lost and unloved, disconnected from their original, historical context, are reinvigorated through intimate association with the artist. Through a process of highly subjective intervention, the structure and ‘habits’ of the image are changed, improving its condition in relationship to the contemporary world.We encounter material, drawn from art history, popular culture and family portraiture but are diverted from conventional habits of reading and directed into a vast construction site of meaningwhere the subversive force of these found images is thoroughly explored and exploited.
Maurizio Anzeri uses drawing and embroidery to adapt found photographs into elaborate assemblages. Working with historical examples of formal portrait photography, and more recently self-portraits, Maurizio employs a type of ‘string art’ technique of overlaying geometric, threaded patterns to recast the photographed subject in a new, and somewhat alien form. The images take on a three dimensional aspect, and appear to reference ancient masking traditions, alongside futuristic images of cyborgs and androids. The eyes become abstracted and the gaze intensified, producing unsettling effects in the viewer.
Ruth Claxton works with postcards of portrait and figurative paintings to create hybrid objects that are at once photographic, painterly and sculptural. By tearing the surface of the card, she draws our attention away from a more traditional pictorial interest towards a consideration of the semantic and material structure of the work. Claxton’s postcards explore and subvert the function of the gaze: the real and implied visual relationships between figures within the picture and between subject and viewer. Through a process that is playful but investigative, we are invited to take part in a dance of glances that swirl and turn around us.
Mariana Mauricio works with found negatives and faded photographs of family holidays in 1960s and 70s Brazil. A surface of staged cheerfulness, already unsettled by the effects of time on the photo material (oxidation, corrosion and general wear and tear) is further disturbed by processes of scratching and painting, stitching and bleaching. The works are then scanned and reprinted as giclée prints embedding Mauricio’s interventions in the structure of the found object. Through photo collage and works reminiscent of Gerhard Richter’s overpainted photographs, Mauricio explodes our view of history and photography’s capacity to represent it.
Seen within the tradition of photo collage, all the works present a further series of diversions, steering away from overtly political uses of the technique - such as the propagandist works of the Russian Constructivists or the sharp satire of Dadaist collage – and bypassing more familiar Surrealist explorations of the unconscious and the uncanny. The results are delicately constructed statements, highly subjective and ambiguous, which seduce us into a world turned upside-down.
Maurizio Anzeri(IT) studied at The London Institute – Camberwell College of Arts and The Slade School of Fine Art in London. He has had recent solo exhibitions at Q Space, London; Rupert Pfab Gallery, Düsseldorf; Luce Gallery, Turin and Riflemaker Gallery, London. Group shows in 2010 include
Ruth Claxton (UK) studied at the Royal College of Art, London and Nottingham Trent University. Recent solo exhibitions/projects include Lands End, Spike Island, Bristol, IKON Gallery, Birmingham, Barber Institute, Birmingham, and Cabinet Magazine, New York.
Mariana Mauricio(BR) studied at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, London. Shehas presented a solo exhibition at Mummery + Schnelle, London, and has participated in selected group exhibitions at the Saatchi Gallery and Frank-Suss Collection, London.
Karen Downey has worked as curator at Belfast Exposed since 2001 developing the archive, exhibition and publishing programmes. Belfast Exposed regularly commissions new work and co-publishes books with international publishers, including Steidl, Hatje Cantz and Black Dog. In 2009 she curated Remote Viewing by Susan MacWilliam for Northern Ireland’s presentation at the 53rd Venice Biennale. She is a member of Temple Bar Gallery and Studios’ Curatorial Panel.
The curator Karen Downey and Temple Bar Gallery + Studios would like to thank the artists, Maurizio Anzeri, Ruth Claxton and Mariana Mauricio and gallerists, Daniel Smernicki, Ingleby Gallery (Edinburgh), Laura Gowen Contemporary (Geneva), Rodrigo Orrantia, Mummery+Schnelle, (London) and Nikola Cernetic, Luce Gallery (Turin). We would also like to thank Catherine Lowe, Nadia Yousfi Picenni, Silke Taprogge and all the private collectors who loaned works for the show.
This exhibition is part of PhotoIreland Festival 2011
Thursday 14 July 2011, 6 - 8pm
Artist TalksOn Thursday 14th July at 5pm, Karen Downey will give a curator’s talk about the show and artist Mariana Mauricio will be present to talk about her work.
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